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Hidden Pathways: A Study into the Desistance Process of African American Male Violence Prevention Workers

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posted on 01.08.2021, 00:00 authored by Chico A Tillmon
Abstract This qualitative study explored African American male ex-offenders who currently work in violence prevention and who reside in the city of Chicago desistance from crime process. It was conducted from February 2020 through August of 2020. The purpose of the study was to explore the authentic shared experiences of participants and deepen our understanding of their desistance process. It is important to note, I am an individual with similar lived experiences as the participants and rest on the inside of the insider and outsider continuum. This study sought to explore the research question: How do marginalized African American male ex-offenders who currently work in violence prevention and who reside in the city of Chicago understand their desistance from crime? The limited current body of literature exploring desistance among marginalized African American ex-offenders working in violence prevention convinced me that it would be most appropriate to employ qualitative interviewing using an interpretive constructionist perspective. The conceptual framework collectively with the research design created an opportunity to permit the voices of marginalized African ex-offenders who work in violence prevention in urban settings to be heard. Qualitative interviewing was necessary to understand what the desistance process looked like for African American male ex-offenders in marginalized communities on Chicago’s west side, and to discover how they defined successful desistance. Qualitative interviewing using an interpretive constructionist perspective allowed me to understand and describe the processes, conditions, challenges, culture, and the participants’ definition of ‘successfully’ abstaining from breaking the law. While qualitative methods seek to capture the rich complexities of social worlds and individual lived experiences, it is also grounded in human behavior and seeks to understand why people act in a particular manner (Marshall & Rossman, 1999).



Richie, Beth


Richie, Beth


Criminology, Law, and Justice

Degree Grantor

University of Illinois at Chicago

Degree Level


Degree name

PhD, Doctor of Philosophy

Committee Member

Bird, Jessica Strickland, Joseph Stovall, David Frohmann, Lisa

Submitted date

August 2021

Thesis type




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